by Michael Morin, QMI Agency / Toronto Sun | see original article
MONTREAL — Two Hydro-Quebec executives in charge of the contentious smart-meter program quietly resigned last week along with CEO Thierry Vandal, QMI Agency has learned.
The $1-billion smart-meter file has sparked boycotts and petitions over the safety of the devices and Hydro-Quebec’s pushy installation measures.
Vandal, the president and CEO, quit after 10 years on the job. His resignation takes effect May 1.
Vandal’s second-in-command, Marie-Josee Nadeau, quit on Friday along with Georges Abiad, who was overseeing installation of more than 3.8 million electronic meters.
Nadeau, as secretary of the board, was the only person aside from the president who had access to all Hydro-Quebec files. She had held her post for 22 years.
In an e-mail to QMI, Nadeau said her resignation “is totally independent of Thierry Vandal’s and it would be wrong to make any connection.”
Hydro-Quebec provided no explanation for the departure of Abiad, the smart-meter boss.
“Mr. Abiad left the corporation last week to pursue other challenges,” the utility told QMI in a statement.
An industry insider said the sudden loss of the three top managers was a shock.
“It’s as if Hydro-Quebec has been decapitated,” he said.
The utility is Canada’s largest in terms of revenues and capacity.
Aside from its Quebec monopoly, the utility powers up parts of Ontario, New Brunswick, Labrador and New England.
Hydro-Quebec has faced enormous criticism over its plan to replace analog meters with digital units.
Clients have reported major hikes on their hydro bills and many have told QMI they have had difficulty getting answers from Hydro-Quebec.
Some say they’ve been put on hold for long periods and were even harassed by call-centre agents who insisted they had no choice but to have the meters installed. The smart meters are, in fact, optional.
QMI reported in December that one Hydro worker faces disciplinary measures for breaking into a home north of Montreal to install a meter.
Some clients, and even some entire towns, are refusing to let Hydro-Quebec install the smart meters on their property.